Trekkers started the spring portion of Big Trek/Little Trek in early March. Big Trek/Little Trek is an afterschool mentoring program that pairs high school students with 3rd and 4th grade students from St. George School in Tenants Harbor and Lura Libby School in Thomaston. Eleven students from Oceanside High School are participating in the spring program as “Bigs,” eight of whom also mentored students during the 2014 fall session. The group is a mix of Trekkers and non-Trekkers students from 9th through 12th grades. Together, these students are contributing over 100 hours of community service this spring through the six week program, which is now in its 10th year.
The Big Trek/Little Trek afterschool program builds supportive, positive relationships and friendships between high school students and elementary school students, outside their regular school environment. It fosters personal growth and builds communication and leadership skills through interpersonal relationships. The program works in collaboration with the schools’ guidance departments and creates a healthy, safe environment for afterschool play through group activities, teambuilding exercises, sports, playground games, arts and crafts and one-on-one mentorship time.
The 3rd and 4th graders are spending quality time one hour per week with their “Bigs,” doing a variety of activities and projects in both one-on-one and group settings. “Bigs” and “Littles” dive into art projects, sports games, board games, hang-man matches, and fun conversations in their time together. Each session takes place at the schools, starting out with a snack and a circle time where each participant will share a little something about themselves. Each pair of students has 30–45 minutes of one-on-one time, which sometimes leads to larger group activities. The group at the St. George School has been fortunate to collaborate with the Jackson Memorial Library this year. Bigs and Littles have walked down to the library as a group to participate in a hands-on Marble Mania Maze project. They were also visited by the Children’s Librarian, Sharon Moskowitz, throughout the sessions.
Among the many benefits of this program, the “Littles” receive encouragement from a positive role model while the “Bigs” develop leadership skills and gain an appreciation for giving back to their community. Before and after each session, the “Big” mentors meet as a group with Program Manager Hannah Tannebring to discuss different aspects of being a mentor. They share highlights from each session, and have an opportunity to ask advice or share stories.
Speaking about the spring session, Tannebring said, ”It is amazing to watch as the “Bigs” jump into a role that is supportive, fun-loving, and so important to a “Little’s” weekly routine. Each week, I get to see how excited “Littles” are to spend time with an older student, and gain trust in a budding, special relationship. A personal highlight for me is to watch as “Bigs” build their confidence in this role, and begin to share stories of how they connect with and care about their “Little.” I feel lucky to spend time with both groups of talented, passionate, and energetic students, week after week.”
To learn more about the program or to find out more about becoming a mentor for future Big Trek/Little Trek sessions, visit www.trekkers.org or call Hannah Tannebring at the Trekkers office at 594-5095.